Declining revenues, coupled with spending on capital projects, caused Auburn’s operating fund balance by the end of the last fiscal year to drop by 18 percent, according to audited numbers for FY2009.
And from FY2007 to FY2009, the balance in the General Fund fell by almost one-third: from $4.1 million to $2.8 million, or about a $1.3 million drop.
However, much of that decline reflects city officials’ policy of using cash reserves rather than bonded debt to finance capital improvements.
Purchased out of General Fund reserves in FY2008 were new equipment and land off Parks Mill Road where the city’s public works operations are expected to relocate by October.
General Fund reserves in FY2009 paid for the purchase of property at 1396 Third Ave. for a future use and for the renovations of City Hall and the Municipal Court facility adjacent to the Winder Police Department.
“All of this has been done without increased debt to the city,” said city administrator Ron Griffith in an e-mail to the Barrow Journal.
On Feb. 18, he gave the Auburn City Council an overview of the city’s audited FY2009 financial statements. CPA Hubert A. Briscoe audited the statements and found them to fairly represent the city’s finances during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2009.
Griffith said General Fund revenues during the year were less than had been collected four years earlier in FY2005.
A year-to-year comparison shows tax collections in FY2009 dropped by $58,800; license and permit fees by $28,500; fines and forfeitures by $72,100; interest income by $92,938; and charges for services by $169,500. The only revenue category that grew during the year was “miscellaneous,” which picked up about $21,400 over FY2008.
However, while operating revenues dropped about $400,000 (11.9 percent), spending from the General Fund declined by about $665,000 (16.2 percent).
The largest single area of spending decline was for public works operations.
“Public Works decreased in capital outlay expenditures and not outsourcing water meter reading,” Griffith explained in his response to the newspaper.
Despite the declining revenues and capital improvements, Auburn’s city government at the end of FY2009 had the following unreserved funds available for future use: almost $2.7 million in the General Fund, about $320,000 in the Capital Projects Fund, and $15,495 in the Special Revenue Fund.
Its Enterprise Fund for water services had a net income of about $181,400 for the year.
Also discussed at the council’s non-voting meeting were the following issues:
•The adoption of the city’s Water Service Area map as its official Stormwater Service Area map. Griffith said the city may impose a stormwater fee of about $38 annually for each “residential equivalent unit” to cover the cost of stormwater services as well as making improvements to the system. He said his staff is still studying the matter and would bring it back to council in June.
•A $10,810 contract with P.C. Simonton & Associates, Inc., to develop the construction document and to administer construction of the first phase of the sports complex downtown. The first phase is to include one Pony field, a retention pond, temporary parking, and, if funding allows, restroom facilities.
•A request by Police Chief Frederick Brown to borrow about $15,000 from the General Fund to purchase an Audiolog-PRO Server for the police department’s telephone system to record all phone calls. He said the operating funds would be replaced as revenues are collected through an existing $10 technology fee added to police citations.
•Three interagency agreements with the Barrow County Sheriff’s Office. Brown recommended that the police department not participate in the sheriff’s drug and gang task force and that it use an inmate housing agreement with the Barrow County Detention Center only as a back-up for services already provided in Gwinnett County. The chief did recommend that the council at its next meeting approve a “mutual aid agreement” laying out the duties and responsibilities of each local law enforcement agency when joint operations are required.
•An expenditure of $75,000 for the relocation of public works operations to city property off Parks Mill Road. Public works director David Hawthorne said his staff would provide the labor for the construction of the facilities.
•A property owner’s request for installation of a street light at Third Street and Mt. Moriah Road. Hawthorne said he and the police chief support the request. The monthly cost for the city would be $12.50.
•A water loss usage update by Hawthorne, who said 7.12 percent of the water distributed through the city’s water system in calendar year 2009 was unaccounted for due to leaks or flushing. He said that was below the 10-12 percent loss threshold recommended by the state.